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Eerie encounters at Inveraray Jail

It’s over 100 years since Inveraray Jail was used to lock up criminals, but it seems that some of the inmates have refused to leave. Icy drafts, footsteps and ghostly apparitions: visitors and staff alike have reported all sorts of strange sightings and paranormal activity over the years. So much so, that Inveraray Jail is now recognized as one of the most haunted buildings in Scotland and has become a magnet for ghost hunters and paranormal investigators, including the team from TV’s Most Haunted.

private-ghost-hunting1With Halloween just around the corner, three of our staff reveal some of their eerie encounters.

Sam Potts, who plays Prisoner

I often sit in Cell 4 in the Old Prison. When I started working here I used to hear footsteps and see shadows passing the cell. At first I thought it was visitors and I’d call out ‘good afternoon’, but there was never anyone there. After a few months the activity stopped. Perhaps the spirits got used to me being there! Cell 2 in the Old Prison is interesting. A number of times I’ve seen young children crouching in the left-hand side of the cell chatting. When the parents ask who they’re talking to they say ‘the old lady’.

People ghost huntingI’ve never felt scared in the Old Prison though. It’s the New Prison that gives me the creeps. I was taking a guided tour there one day with a guy who turned out to be a psychic. He told me that there was a man following me who doesn’t like me. The psychic reckoned it was an angry Warder from the past who doesn’t like his routine being disrupted.

Rob Irons, who plays Warder

I’ve worked here for over 13 years and I’ve seen stuff that the would make your hair stand on end. I’ll often see someone crossing from the washroom to the dayroom in the Old Prison. It’s always from the corner of my eye. I used to check, but it’s happened so often now I don’t bother. Visitors see the same thing. One Sunday morning I stepped into Mad Archie’s cell. I was on my own in the jail but I heard someone call out ‘Rob’. It was so clear that I remember replying ‘I’ll be there in a minute’. I looked everywhere, but there wasn’t a soul in the building.

We’ve held over 60 ghost hunting events here at the jail and they’ve all picked something up. One night I was locking up after an event at 4.30am. There was a light left on in the New Prison, but I couldn’t go through the door to turn it off. I froze at the entrance. I knew someone was waiting for me. I left the light on and hurried home.

Graeme Wilkins, the jail’s resident restoration man

To be honest I don’t really believe in ghosts, but I’ve had a few experiences here at Inveraray Jail that I can’t explain. I tend to be the first to arrive and the last to leave. One morning I arrived and I could hear voices. I looked everywhere but there was no-one around. On another morning I arrived and all the corridor gates and doors were shut; I’d left them all open the night before. When I work up in the loft at the top of the building, I always sense something strange. It’s such a spooky space. I was working there the other week and I felt someone standing right behind me. Perhaps it’s just the atmosphere in these old buildings that makes my imagination run wild – who knows!

Why not come and visit us this Halloween weekend? Check out our gruesome Torture, Death and Damnation exhibition, where you can see a hangman’s noose, thumbscrews, branding irons and iron masks with tongue holders, supposedly for nagging wives. And if that hasn’t totally terrified you, take a walk through jail – you never know who you might meet!


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Inveraray Jail, Argyll, Scotland, PA32 8TX